Jesus asks us to love our enemies. Love of enemies has always been considered a typically Christian virtue.
It is common to love the one who loves you. The law of mutually regulates love in society: I love you, if you love me; I will be grateful to you, if you treat me well.
However, Jesus wants us to break out this “coercion of mutuality.” He wants us to love in all circumstances, to love those who do not love us, yes, even the ones who are against us. Perhaps a former friend has turned away from me. Perhaps this person has stopped loving me; still, Jesus wants me to love him or her.
Just as we used to talk about unilateral disarmament, we should be able to talk about unilateral—one-sided—love, that is, a love that doesn’t expect anything in return. In this sense, God’s love for us is often one-sided. God loves and loves while we don’t love him in return.
It is not superhuman to love in situations where you only encounter hate? Yes, it is superhuman. It is divine. But Jesus will teach us how to interact with one another in a divine way. He has come to reveal God’s “lifestyle” to us, and he wishes for this lifestyle to become ours as well. He wants us to love as God loves, who lets the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and lets it rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous (Mt 5:45).
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.